Washington, DC — In a blatent disregard for the safety of workers, the National Chicken Council is lobbying for the elimination of regulations in chicken processing plants across the country.The lobby group wants to cut out USDA inspections. This group representing processors want to turn back the clock to 1920 when work in a chicken plant was a very dangerous job and injuries and deaths were a daily occurance. Fortunately, the United Food and most Commercial Worker organizations strongly oppose the National Chicken Council speed-up scheme.
Some 20 chicken plants now run their production lines at 175 birds per minute, a speed adopted over protests by industry experts. That speedup, from 140 birds per minute, is so unsafe the inspectors brought the issue to the Agriculture Department.
The UFCW, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the animal rights groups said the chicken council’s proposal would hurt the workers, most of whom are women, members of minority groups, or both. In addition, 71 percent of poultry processing workers earn less than the U.S. poverty line.
Cleary, the National Chiken Counci is ignoring the impressive results of safety regulations in the industry. The number of deaths and injuries on the job fell by more than 80 percent in the past 20 years due to plant regulation.
“A 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that forcing lines to move faster will expose poultry workers to higher rates of injuries and illnesses,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone.
“Increased line speeds will also make it harder for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination that could make consumers sick,” continued Perrone.